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Baylor Coach's Future May Rest On OSU Game

WACO, Texas (AP) - Amid all the speculation about Baylor coach Guy Morriss' future, one thing is certain. He is about to coach his final game of this season.

There are no other guarantees for Morriss, whose job status after five losing seasons is uncertain. The Bears wrap up their 12th straight losing season Saturday night against Oklahoma State.

Morriss, who has an 18-39 record and a year left on his contract, has repeatedly deflected questions about whether he will be back in 2008. He insists it's something he can't really control, and says the players “are all aware about my future.”

Instead, Morriss and the Bears (3-8, 0-7 Big 12) have tried to focus on the season finale against Oklahoma State (5-5, 3-3), a team trying to get bowl eligible.

“We are going to try to play for ourselves, play for Baylor and try to gain a win,” quarterback Blake Szymanski said. “Just try to have a good time and to leave everything out on the field.”

There have been multiple newspaper reports, all citing anonymous sources, over the past couple of weeks that Morriss won't be back next season. Athletic director Ian McCaw has repeatedly said the coach's status won't be determined until after the season.

It has been another tough season for the Bears, who have lost their Big 12 games by an average margin of 30 points. They are the only team that hasn't been to a bowl game since the league's inception in 1996.

Baylor has an 11-game conference losing streak that began after a 4-4 start in 2006, when it appeared that the Bears would be in position for a bowl appearance.

Oklahoma State, coming off consecutive home losses to Top 25 teams Texas and Kansas, is trying to get bowl eligible for the fifth time in six seasons.

The only time the Cowboys weren't eligible in that span was two years ago, when they were eliminated from bowl contention after an eight-turnover game at Baylor in which they trailed 38-0 before eventually losing 44-34.

The Cowboys have never been to five bowls in a six-year span.

“We're fighting to go to a bowl game. That's our biggest thing right now,” receiver Tommy Devereaux said. “It would be disappointing if we don't get to a bowl game this year.”

While a lot else has to happen, Oklahoma State may even still be able to get into the Big 12 championship game. The Cowboys controlled their destiny in the South Division until their consecutive losses.

If the Cowboys beat Baylor and win their regular season finale at third-ranked Oklahoma and the Sooners also lose Saturday at Texas Tech, and No. 12 Texas loses its finale at Texas A&M there would be a three-way tie for the South Division lead. They all would be 5-3 in the Big 12, 1-1 head-to-head and 3-2 against division opponents.

So there are plenty of motivating factors to keep Oklahoma State focused on Baylor instead of looking ahead to the in-state Bedlam rivalry.

“I don't think that'll be an issue. I really don't,” coach Mike Gundy said. “Our players have done a good job of preparing each week for that game.”

The Cowboys, eighth nationally with 497 total yards a game and the only team to average at least 240 yards both passing and rushing, will have to overcome the absence of leading receiver Adarius Bowman (61 catches, 932 yards, seven touchdowns).

Bowman will miss the rest of the regular season after injuring his right knee in the first half of last week's 43-28 loss at No. 4 Kansas. Bowman has double the amount of catches and receiving yards of the Cowboys' second-leading receiver, tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

Szymanski, Baylor's sophomore quarterback, already has set school records with 2,618 passing yards and 20 TDs. But he hasn't won a Big 12 game since taking over the final three games last season after previous record-holder Shawn Bell's career ended prematurely because of torn knee ligaments.
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